2022 MLS Cup Contenders

One thing that separates the MLS from its European counterparts is how the league championship is settled in a knockout playoff format. What this creates is chaos, much like other American leagues. Dominating the regular season doesn’t mean much when it comes to the playoffs.

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No team has repeated as MLS Cup champion since the Los Anglees Galaxy in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. While the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have dominated the Western Conference, winning the conference every year since 2014, neither has won the league in consecutive years.

Here’s a look at who to keep an eye on for the conference and league championships.

Philadelphia lets nothing by

The Union have been the stingiest team in the MLS this season. Philadelphia has only allowed 22 goals, which is the best in the league by 14. What has made the Union so strong is how the defense works with keeper Andre Blake. So far this season, Blake has a 18-10-4 (win-tie-loss) record.

Blake has recorded 14 shutouts this season. Philadelphia also has plenty of scoring punch as Dante Gazdag (19 goals), Julian Carranza (14) and Mikael Uhre (12) have all scored 10 or more goals for the Union. Philadelphia is a -150 favorite to win the Eastern Conference and +250 to win the MLS Cup.

What’s in a name?

LAFC was already the favorite to win the Western Conference before it added Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini to the lineup in July. While the Black and Gold have stayed in the first spot in the Western Conference throughout most of the season, LAFC has found itself vulnerable to conceding goals.

The Black and Gold have allowed 36 goals and are 20-4-8.  Cristian Arango leads LAFC with 16 goals, while Carlos Vela has 11. Bale has scored twice since joining the team. The Black and Gold are -182 to win the conference and +275 to win the their first MLS Cup.

Sensational Sophomore Campaign

Austin FC’s first season made them look the part of an expansion team. During their second season, however, the Texas-based franchise has surged to the top of the Western Conference table with an exciting attack. Austin FC has scored 64 goals which was as many as LAFC has.

While Austin FC’s defense isn’t as good as the Black and Gold’s, Austin FC has shown remarkable growth in their second season. Sebastian Drussi leads the team with 21 goals in 32 appearances. Austin FC is +375 to win the conference and +1100 to win the MLS Cup.

Oh, Canada

The Montreal impact are in second place in the Eastern Conference standings and have been a difficult matchup for their opponents. The Impact has scored 59 goals this season, which is second most in the Eastern Conference. Having that type of attack has put the pressure on opponents to keep up.

Romell Quioto leads Montreal with 15 goals. The Impact are +900 to win the league and +375 to win the Eastern Conference.

The Kings are dead?

The MLS finally seems poised to have another champion in the Western Conference that isn’t in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have ruled the conference since 2014. Neither franchise has good prospects for this season goes.

As far as the Sounders are concerned, they are nearly entirely out of the running. Seattle would have needed a miracle finish to grab a playoff spot. While Portland’s playoff position is safe, the market is high on a deep round. The Timbers are +1600 to win the Western Conference and +3300 to win the league.

Portland doesn’t have any real stars on the attack. The Timbers have five players who have pocketed six or more, but haven’t had anyone reach double figures.